Some Ugandans seem to be living only part-time on planet earth. How would they compare Dr Wangari’s world-wide protests with the stupid antics or more precisely SICK STUNTS of Dr Stella Nyanzi? Wangari was engaged in a supreme act of female emancipation, whereas Dr Nyanzi is a narcisstic attention seeker engaged in a vile form of voyeurism. Dr Nyanzi is a huge embarrassment to female emancipation, and that’s why, on the international stage or academic fora, you will see no woman supporting her. Politically, she is also toxic and has totally damaged the credible role she played in mounting an anti-fascist, anti-NRA campaign during the charade of elections. That’s why even the FDC that she had tied her coat tails to is very hesitant to come to her rescue because she is badly damaged goods.
Consider the following:
1. Some people talk of Dr Mamdani renting out space to MISR to his wife’s film company. Have they cared to look at the accounts of MISR? The Institute does not receive its annual grant from the University and is in permanent deficit. It has to raise additional income by renting out part of its premises. Dr Mamdani’s wife pays $900 per month for the space, which is much higher than it would cost in the commercial districts of Kampala. Besides, Miira Naur’s film studios are open to students, many aspiring students actually take advantage of the facility.
2. The condition for Dr Mamdani’s acceptance of the Director post at MISR in 2010 was that it would become a teaching Institute, also adding on to the research role it has been engaged in since inception. Nearly 50% of current MISR income is devoted to TEACHING and not RESEACRH. Dr Nyanzi did not want to teach a meagre 3 hours per week, even though it is written in her contract of employment. When an employee acts in such an open manner of defiance, what is the management of the Institute supposed to do? Can WBK or even Simon Peter Okurut advise how they would deal with an employee who is acting in open insubordination?
3. MISR had a culture of staff members doing their own private work, totally unrelated to the strategic vision and goals of the Institute. More often, research fellows would look for funding from external sources, or attach themselves to the Institute, while doing the research for other Universities or organisations. ( MISR staff are not unique in this as can be seen with other public servants like doctors, teachers etc who all moon-light elsewhere to make ends meet) . Dr Mamdani wanted to change all that. He wanted to crack down on PRIVATE RESEARCH not sanctioned or approved by the University. This is where he fell out with Dr Nyanzi. Dr Nyanzi is doing a research on Female Homosexual Culture in Uganda, which is funded by a Dutch organisation. Her research is completely private and has nothing to do with MISR. Dr mamdani’s view was that she should do that research in her free time and that she should not use MISR offices for her private business or research.
4. As a senior staff member, it was inappropriate for DR Naynzi to try to mobilise students against her Director. Moreover the students who have written publicly against Dr Mamdani are all students who have failed in their papers or have had their scholarships withdrawn. The Institute has a duty to maintain standards and must never be coerced to graduate students whose work is poor or sub-standard. It was completely wrong for students to publicly criticise the Institute for giving them Fail Grades in their exams. I am sure MISR has got protocols for reviewing exam results, if they feel they have been wrongly graded. That’s the avenue students should have pursued, rather than launching a public median protest.
The only point I agree on, and which needs to be addressed urgently, is one of institutional governance. The power in the hands of Dr Mamdani needs to be dispersed and made more accountable. He is the one directly responsible for the management of the scholarships, and also is the one responsible for the academic progress of the students. This puts him in a very difficult position because an academic decision he makes on a student’s progress will inevitably affect the student’s scholarship. A student has to make suitable progress over the 5 year Ph,D duration for the scholarship to continue, and it seems reasonable that these two roles should be completely separated. I was a beneficiary of a scholarship from the British Foreign office, which was managed by the British Council and not the University where I did my research. The University did not care how I survived, so long as I made progress with my academic work.
As for the idiots saying MISR should let Dr Mamdani go, let them reflect that in 2008-2009 academic year, the University Council wanted to close down the Institute because it could not afford its then running costs of $1.5 million. Dr Mamdani saved MISR, which today has an Income of $7.5 million. There is no doubt that MISR will collapse in less than 3 years without Dr Mamdani at the helm. Dr mamdani is committed to higher education in Uganda and more than three generations of Ugandan students have passed through his hands. In fact I will go so far as to say he is the most outstanding academician Uganda has produced. He does not need to be at makerere University if it was just money or lucre he was looking for. Ugandans like to talk about matters of which they have no clue, and this includes even so-called educated people. I don’t take any pleasure in stating this.